UVa Chief Operating Officer Michael Strine announced his resignation today. In a statement released by President Teresa Sullivan, Sullivan stated, “Michael recently determined that it would be in the best interest of the University that he step down and allow me to do some necessary internal restructuring.”
Strine was named executive vice president and chief operating office by Sullivan on May 12th 2011, taking over the reins of Leonard W. Sandridge who held the position at UVa for 44 years. Sullivan named Strine a “worthy successor” to Sandridge’s legacy. Strine previously worked at John Hopkins University as the primary liaison to the Finance Committee of the board of trustees. Prior to John Hopkins, Strine was the chief financial officer for New Castle County Delaware.
The sudden resignation comes after a whirlwind of changes at the helm of the University. Strine’s move to step down marks two months since the reinstatement of President Sullivan after a failed attempt to force her out. In a statement to Sullivan, Strine stated, “Though it is hard to step aside, I am confident that this step helps the University and those it serves by allowing this board and president the opportunity to pursue changes aimed at ensuring communication, accountability and shared governance.”
Insider Higher Education reported that Strine denied allegations that he was involved in the board’s decision or that he criticized Sullivan’s performance to the board. Upon the announcement of Sullivan’s resignation and the outcry from students, faculty, and alumni, Strine along with John Simon, the University Provost, stated, “”The Board of Visitors’ action is resolute and authoritative.”
Upon the announcement of Sullivan’s resignation, Rector Helen Dragas released a university-wide statement explaining the reasons for the Boards actions. Dragas namely stated financial woes caused turmoil within the University, “Federal research funding and federal support of student loans are both in decline, with no expectation of a recovery, putting pressure on the University to replace these revenue sources with sustainable alternatives. The University has no long-range plan to do so,” stated Dragas in an e-mail to the University community.
After the reinstatement of Sullivan by a unanimous vote by the Board of Visitors donations to the University doubled. As ABC news reported the university had its best June for fundraising since 2008 receiving $44.4 million in cash and pledges. “When Sullivan resigned our giving dropped in half and when she was reinstated our giving doubled,” stated Bob Sweeney, University Provost, to the Associated Press.
As UVa’s executive vice president and chief operating officer, Strine was 2nd on top at the University, with Sullivan 1st in command. His primary obligations include serving as a financial head, business partner and advisor to the president, provost, Board of Visitors, vice presidents and deans. His responsibilities also included collaborating with the provost to develop and adopt a new funding model for the University that recognizes likely changes in state funding levels, research support, philanthropic giving and investment returns.
Strine’s resignation is effective immediately. President Sullivan remains confident in the direction of the University stating, “The University is in strong financial standing, and maintains its triple-A bond rating from all three of the rating agencies. We also have extraordinary depth in all of our financial offices. I feel confident that we will not skip a beat while we begin a national search for a new financial leader.”